17:24 Tuesday April 29th 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[C]HRIS MANN: Over the top and scaremongering. That’s how an article about Wisbech which appeared in the Sun on Sunday newspaper has been described by one business leader in the town. Under the headline “Little Lithuania” it claims locals are being squeezed by the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Independent councillor for the Waterlees area of Wisbech Cllr Virginia Bucknor has called for people in Wisbech to boycott the Sun.
VIRGINIA BUCKNOR: There are so many inaccurate comments in that article; the fact that they said one business had to close up after over 100 years because of the Lithuanian shops. He retired. His business is still going well and open for business. I shop there. It’s still being used successfully. Now they do open a lot of the shops there, which I happen to love.
CHRIS MANN: Steve Tierney is town councillor, Chairman of the Wisbech Conservatives.
STEVE TIERNEY: They’ve taken a small grain of truth and then turned it into this scaremongering massive story. I wouldn’t say there are no problems here. We’ve had a lot of cultural change over the years. Lots of new people have come, and whenever you have that flooding with people from different areas coming into an area, well of course you get some clashes and misunderstandings and problems. But lots of that article, as Cllr Bucknor said was completely wrong.
CHRIS MANN: Here’s the view now of Dean Reeves, who’s a Labour activist and part of the community group We Are Wisbech.
DEAN REEVES: Although they have got a point in terms of the amount of change that the town has gone through in the past decade, and I think that probably that’s at the back of people’s minds when they look around and see what has happened to the town. It’s not all down to immigration, and there’s other things that are causing problems for our town. Our town centre is very poor. Loads of the shops have closed. We’ve got supermarkets all around the edge of our town. People don’t relate to each other, don’t meet up in the town centre like they used to.
CHRIS MANN: Here’s another view. Anita Grodkiewicz is from the Rosmini Centre, organised a pro-immigration event, and she spoke to our reported Johnny D. earlier today in Wisbech.
ANITA GRODKIEWICZ: A lot of the migrants themselves are saying to me, they’ve been here for eight years, ten years, and they’re feeling threatened now with the numbers of people coming in.
JOHNNY D: That’s interesting, because I’ve spoken to Polish people here, as you said that have been here for ten years, and they said to me, no more migrants. We don’t want any more.
ANITA GRODKIEWICZ: And that’s not just Polish people. I’ve heard from Lithuanian people and other people saying there are too many now. However what I would like to point out is that Wisbech can only sustain so many people. You constantly have 50,000 people here, and sustain them. people when they come here they’re not entitled to benefits. So when they come here, if they’re not entitled to benefits, most of the agencies now you have to pass an English test before you can get work. So if you don’t speak English, if you can’t claim benefits, if there is no work for you you need to go home. So I think things are sorting themselves out.
CHRIS MANN: I had been hoping to talk to the Mayor of Wisbech on the programme this evening, Samantha Hoy, but that’s not happened, so that’s disappointing.